Wednesday 22 November 2017

Leinster-Wasps combined XV - Amazing quality on show as Leo Cullen's men shade it

Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

The Aviva Stadium will play host to two of the most exciting teams in Europe when Leinster and Wasps lock horns in their Champions Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

Wasps are five points clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership having scored 577 points in 18 games, Leo Cullen's side have scored 573 points in the same number of games.

It has all the ingredients for a high-scoring classic.

Given the huge amount of talent on show, it seemed like an interesting experiment to create a combined XV from both sides and the result is an extremely formidable XV, with Leinster shading it 8-7.

Here is the team:

15. Kurtley Beale

The 28-year-old will return to the Waratahs at the end of the season and will look to bow out with a bang. He remains one of the most natural footballers in the game.

Kurtley Beale.jpg
12: Kurtley Beale (Wasps)

14. Christian Wade

The Aviva Premiership's top tryscorer this season scored a brace against Worcester yesterday to bring his tally to 14. The lightning fast winger also has a habit of scoring against Leinster, something Leo Cullen will be acutely aware of.

Rob Kearney, Leinster, is tackled by Christian Wade, Wasps

13. Garry Ringrose

Comparisons with Brian O'Driscoll continue but Ringrose is his own player and has continued to blossom at provincial and international level. His defensive capabilities will be tested this weekend.

Garry Ringrose of Ireland during an open training session at the Monaghan RFC grounds in Co. Monaghan. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

12. Robbie Henshaw

Huge performances against the All Blacks and England illustrated how the former Connacht centre can mix it with the game's best. Another tireless display will be required.

Robbie Henshaw Picture: Sportsfile

11. Elliot Daly

He was the player of the Six Nations, in a lot of people's opinions. He has speed and great footballing instincts. His long range goalkicking could prove pivotal too.

2017-02 (1063).jpg
England's Elliot Daly scores a try. Photo: Reuters

10. Johnny Sexton

Doubts remain over his fitness but not his quality. He has jumped to the head of the queue for the Lions number 10 shirt with command displays in the Six Nations.

61 SPORT SEXTON 1286837 (2).jpg
Johnny Sexton will sit out Leinster’s game against Cardiff on Saturday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

9. Luke McGrath

A coin-toss between himself and Dan Robson. His cameo appearance against England showed a player oozing in confidence and ability.

Luke McGrath aims to shine with Leinster after a promising Six Nations. SPORTSFILE

8. Nathan Hughes

With Jamie Heaslip sidelined, Hughes gets the nod. He failed to sparkle when deputising for Billy Vunipola in the Six Nations but he remains a huge adversary. His battle with Jack Conan is worth the attendance fee alone.

Nathan Hughes’ two tries capped a fine evening’s work

7. Sean O'Brien

He is not the Tullow Tank of old, but O'Brien is still a massive force at provincial level. His physicality will be crucial against the sheer size of Wasps.

Sean O'Brien of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship game between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium in Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

6. James Haskell

Haskell will be delighted to get a shot at redemption after his no-show against Ireland nine days ago at the Aviva. An enormous figure for Dai Young's outfit.

England back-row James Haskell

5. Joe Launchbury

Showed why Young installed him as captain throughout the Six Nations. He made the impact of George Kruis' absence negligible with some huge performances.

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England's Joe Launchbury during training. Photo: REUTERS

4. Devin Toner

Toner found the going tough against Wales but his carries should be more effective at club level and he remains one of the most effective lineout operators on the planet.

Devin Toner

3. Tadhg Furlong

He seems to be the first name on every Lions XV being bandied about since the November internationals. He loves the physical nature of the game and he will get plenty of that on Saturday.

Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

2. Ashley Johnson

His career has been rejuvenated since he reverted to the hooker position from the back row. He's dynamic in the loose and favourite among the Wasps faithful.

Ashley Johnson of Wasps scores a try Photo: Getty

1. Jack McGrath

Pips his Leinster teammate Cian Healy to selection as he has done over the past few years. Another potential Lions tourist.

Jack McGrath holds off the challenge of Jannie du Plessis during Leinster's victory against Montpellier at the RDS last night Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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